Tuesday, July 14, 2009

More work and podcasts

I am back at work analyzing this summer's data. I have been examining the digital recordings from the Great Lakes region and comparing them to the previous summers' recordings from Canada.

I have been tabulating the data from the playback experiments. The preliminary results look very compelling. Western birds appear to recognize differences between their own dialects and different dialects from eastern North America, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Eastern birds also appear to show a similar pattern of recognition and discrimination. I will report more solid findings later this summer. I will continue to conduct more statistical tests beginning this week.

The College has recently interviewed me about my work and has posted podcasts on the College's website. The first podcast contains an overview of the pattern of geographic variation and some examples of songs from the breeding range.

The images below are sonograms or pictorial representations of the digital recordings of these songs. The x-axis is time in seconds and the y-axis is frequency in kHz.

Eastern Regiolect (Girardville, Quebec)

Newfoundland Regiolect (Burgeo, Newfoundland)

Nova Scotia Regiolect (Wreck Cove, Nova Scotia)

Western Regiolect (Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan)

The second podcast is an interview and description of the project and how I have been conducting field research.

I just finished editing this video of a Western Gull. It is extremely similar to our Great Black-backed Gull.

Western Gull

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Back in the Granite State 2009

We took the red-eye flight in from San Francisco and finally arrived home early Saturday morning at the Manchester airport.

I am posting some recent videos of more western species and some interesting behaviors I observed.

The Spotted Towhee is a close relative of our Eastern Towhee. It was formerly considered a subspecies of the Rufous-sided Towhee complex but they were recently split into different species. This video is of a male Spotted Towhee exhibiting "scratching" behavior among Acacia leaves and bark in Sonoma. This male is scratching the leaf litter for food. Scratching behavior is very common among many different groups of birds.

Spotted Towhee

This next video is of the Oregon race of the Dark-eyed Junco. This species is one of the most variable in North America with several recognizable and defined subspecies. The Oregon race is very different from our local Slate-colored variant or (currently) subspecies of Dark-eyed Junco. Although Junco populations vary morphologically from each other, they are still considered subspecies or races of a single species, the Dark-eyed Junco.

Oregon Junco

I like the Black Phoebe for some odd reason so I have included another close-up of this species from downtown Healdsburg near the Bear Republic microbrewery. It is reminiscent of our Eastern Phoebe that is a common breeder in the eastern US and Canada.

Black Phoebe

Here is another interesting species, the Oak Titmouse, that was recently part of the Plains Titmouse group. The Plains Titmouse was recently split into 2 separate species - the Oak Titmouse that breeds in western California and the more eastern Juniper Titmouse from the Great Basin. It is similar to our eastern species, the Tufted Titmouse.

Oak Titmouse

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

On Vacation 2009 - California Part 2

Kris and I just returned from a hike through the Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve. We went on the Pioneer, East Ridge and Pool Ridge trails for a 5 mile hike.

The trails take you through the bottomlands that are filled with enormous Redwood trees. I am here with the most famous tree in the reserve - the Colonel Armstrong that is more than 1400 years old.

There is little or no ground cover with ferns and oxtails that give it a pre-historic feel. The birding highlights included more western species like the Steller’s Jay and Chestnut-backed Chickadee.

Monday, July 6, 2009

On Vacation – California 2009 Part 1

I’m on vacation with my wife this week in Sonoma, California. However, the birding never stops. I am up to my ears in western species, some of which I have seen before and some of which are new. I have some videos here of some of the western specialties from wine country.

We first attended the 4th of July Parade in Sonoma that featured this Grizzly Bear family, symbol of the Bear Republic.

California Quail male and family

California Quail male

Western Scrub Jay juvenile

Acorn Woodpecker

California Towhee